World IVF Day 2023
Every year, on July 25th, a day of hope and miracles is celebrated worldwide – World IVF Day. In vitro fertilization (IVF) has revolutionized the world of reproductive medicine, offering millions of couples struggling with infertility a chance to experience the joy of parenthood. On this significant day, we not only commemorate the scientific advancements that made IVF possible but also acknowledge the resilience, raise reproductive awareness, and strength of individuals and families who embarked on this emotional journey.
A Brief History Of IVF
The story of IVF began in the mid-20th century when scientists and physicians dreamt of overcoming infertility challenges. It wasn't until 1978 that the first successful IVF birth was achieved. Dr. Robert Edwards, a British physician and biologist, and gynecologist Dr. Patrick Steptoe welcomed the birth of Louise Brown, the world's first "test-tube baby." This groundbreaking achievement paved the way for future developments in assisted reproductive technology.
What Is IVF?
In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a revolutionary assisted reproductive technology that helps individuals and couples who struggle with infertility to conceive a child. IVF involves a complex series of medical procedures in which eggs are surgically retrieved from the ovaries and then fertilized with sperm in a laboratory dish. The resulting embryos are monitored and after a few days of growth, one or more healthy embryos are transferred into the uterus with the hope of achieving a successful pregnancy.
Why Is IVF Needed?
IVF (in vitro fertilization) is considered when certain fertility challenges cannot be resolved through other means or when other treatments have been unsuccessful. It is typically recommended in the following situations
- Fallopian Tube Damage or Blockage: If a woman has blocked or damaged fallopian tubes, preventing the natural path for sperm and egg to meet, IVF can bypass this issue by directly fertilizing the egg in the laboratory.
- Male Infertility: IVF is often considered when a male partner has low sperm count, poor sperm motility, or other sperm-related issues that make it difficult to achieve conception naturally.
- Endometriosis: In cases of severe endometriosis, where the tissue lining the uterus grows outside the uterus, IVF may be recommended to increase the chances of conception.
- Unexplained Infertility: When the cause of infertility cannot be determined through standard diagnostic tests, IVF may be used as a treatment option.
- Advanced Maternal Age: As a woman gets older, her fertility declines, and IVF can be a viable option for increasing the chances of pregnancy.
- Repeated Unsuccessful Treatments: If other fertility treatments like fertility medications or intrauterine insemination (IUI) have not resulted in a successful pregnancy, IVF may be the next step.
- Genetic Disorders: In cases where one or both partners carry genetic disorders that could be passed on to their offspring, preimplantation genetic testing (PGT) can be done during IVF to screen embryos for genetic abnormalities.
- Same-Sex Couples: IVF enables same-sex couples to have biological children by using their sperm or eggs or through donor gametes and a gestational carrier.
- Single Women: IVF provides single women with the opportunity to become biological mothers using donor sperm.
The 5 Steps Involved In IVF Procedure
- Stimulation: Normally, one egg is produced every month by a woman. During stimulation, fertility drugs are given to stimulate multiple eggs as multiple eggs are required during IVF. Regular blood tests and ultrasounds are performed to monitor egg production during this period.
- Egg Retrieval: Follicular aspiration is performed to remove eggs from the body.
- Insemination And Fertilization: A semen sample is collected from the man and mixed with the eggs. This process is called insemination. After insemination, fertilization takes place when the sperm enters the egg. If fertilization chances are low and embryos are not produced, then intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) is done where the sperm is injected directly into the eggs.
- Embryo Culture: Here, the fertilized eggs are monitored to check if they are dividing to form embryos. The embryos are checked regularly to ensure that they are growing well. At this time, the embryos might be tested for genetic conditions.
- Embryo Transfer: Once the embryos are grown, they are ready for implantation. This process usually occurs after three to five days of fertilization. During implantation, a catheter (thin tube) is inserted into the vagina, passing the cervix and into the uterus. The embryo is then released into the uterus. Once the embryo successfully implants itself into the uterine wall, pregnancy will occur. A pregnancy test can be taken to confirm the same.
Recent Advances In IVF
- Time-Lapse Imaging: Time-lapse imaging technology allows continuous monitoring of embryo development, aiding embryologists in selecting the best-quality embryos for transfer.
- Preimplantation Genetic Testing (PGT): PGT enables screening embryos for genetic abnormalities before implantation, increasing the chances of selecting healthy embryos and reducing the risk of certain genetic diseases.
- Non-Invasive PGT: Research is ongoing to develop non-invasive methods of PGT that don't require removing cells from the embryo, potentially improving embryo viability assessment.
- Artificial Intelligence (AI) And Machine Learning: AI and machine learning algorithms analyze IVF treatment data to optimize protocols and predict embryo viability, improving success rates.
- In Vitro Maturation (IVM): IVM is an alternative IVF approach where immature eggs are retrieved and matured in the laboratory before fertilization, suitable for certain patients like those with PCOS.
- Egg Vitrification: Vitrification is a rapid egg-freezing technique that significantly improves egg survival rates and provides more reproductive options for women.
- Mild Stimulation IVF: Mild stimulation IVF protocols use lower doses of fertility drugs, reducing risks like OHSS while maintaining success rates.
- Single Embryo Transfer (SET) Strategies: SET minimizes multiple pregnancy risks while maintaining high success rates through advanced embryo selection techniques.
Complications Of IVF
- Multiple pregnancies, which might cause complications like putting the child and parent’s life at risk, increase the risk of low birth weight, C-section delivery, premature birth, and maternal hemorrhage.
- Loss of pregnancy (miscarriage).
- Risk of ectopic pregnancy (implantation of the egg outside the uterus).
- Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS) is a rare condition causing an excess of fluid in the abdomen and chest.
- Rarely it might cause bleeding, infection, or damage to the bowels or bladder.
Takeaway About IVF
Talking and discussing everything about IVF with your healthcare provider is essential to comprehend the entire process. IVF can be tiring and affect the couple’s mental, physical, and financial condition. However, IVF has brought light back into the lives of many couples. If you are someone who is struggling with infertility, then you can consider the option of IVF. Remember to stay positive and hopeful throughout the treatment.
Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.